Rejected crematorium plan is approved on appeal

Artist's impression of the Dignity crematorium at Sawtry Way.

Artist's impression of the Dignity crematorium at Sawtry Way. - Credit: Archant

Work on Huntingdon Town Council’s new £6.7million crematorium will start in September - despite a rival scheme being given the go-ahead.

The crematorium, near the Jubilee Park sports area, is the biggest project ever undertaken by the council.

But now national funeral firm Dignity UK Ltd has won a planning appeal over its plans to build its own crematorium a short distance away off Sawtry Way, near RAF Wyton.

The decision means that the Huntingdon area, which does not have a crematorium, could soon have two a little more than a mile apart.

Planning appeal inspector Claire Searson said in her report: "In broad terms there is no dispute that within Huntingdonshire district there is a qualitative and quantitative need for further provision as at the current time, as no crematoria currently operate in the district."

She said that one area of concern had been over the need for the Dignity crematorium in light of the town council winning planning permission for its scheme and there was also the view that this scheme was in a "more appropriate" location.

Ms Searson said the district council was satisfied there was sufficient need for two crematoriums in the district.

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Huntingdon town clerk Philip Peacock said the town council was now close to completing its tendering process.

"We will sign off the tenders in August and are due to start on site in mid-September," he said.

Both schemes emerged in 2017 with the town scheme gaining planning permission and the Dignity project being rejected.

But Dignity went to the High Court and the town's planning permission was quashed.

Both launched replacement schemes and the town's was again approved by the district council and Dignity's rejected. Dignity also made an appeal which proved successful.

Ms Searson concluded that the Dignity scheme would cause "no harm" to the character of the area.

Both projects estimated a need for around 1,000 cremations a year and there would be an impact on each scheme if both opened, but the inspector said that only one scheme came forward the need for the area "would not be fully met".

She said that by the end of the district council's local plan period in 2036 the need would be close to the 1,600 threshold.

In a report to the appeal, Dignity said its crematorium would help to meet the need for the area as well as improving capacity at overstretched neighbouring crematoria.

It said the site, which had no important featured, met planning requirements and would be sustainable as it would reduce travelling times for mourners.